Tehran: The parliament in Tehran has rejected as "baseless" claims by the United Arab Emirates to Gulf islands controlled by Iran, calling them "interference" in domestic affairs, according to a petition announced today.
The declaration, signed by 225 of the 290 MPs in the chamber, was made the day after the UAE and its five fellow Arab monarchies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) slammed a recent visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Abu Musa, one of the three disputed islands.
The GCC called the visit "a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands."
Ownership of the islands should be determined by negotiations or the International Court of Justice, it added. But the Iranian lawmakers said Ahmadinejad's April 11 trip to Abu Musa was part of a "provincial tour" of Iran, and they called the stance of the UAE "a clear interference in Iran's domestic affairs and thus unacceptable and rejected." Iran's ownership of Abu Musa and the smaller two islands of Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb are "non-negotiable" even though discussions were possible with the UAE "to clear up any possible misunderstanding."
Iran seized control of the islands in 1971, when Britain granted independence to its Gulf protectorates and withdrew its forces.
Abu Musa, the only inhabited island of the three, was placed under joint administration in a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.
But Abu Dhabi says the Iranians have taken over the entire island - which controls access to the oil-rich Gulf - and have built an airport and military base there.
Ahmadinejad yesterday said Iran's military was ready to "inflict heavy regret and shame in case of any aggression against Iranian lands and interests."
And Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned GCC states a day earlier that things could become "very complicated" if they did not act cautiously over the dispute. Iranian media have been scathing of the UAE's claim.
The Iran Daily, a government newspaper that publishes in English, last week wrote in an editorial that past Persian kings had indulgently allowed Gulf Arabs to visit the islands because at the time they were considered only "miserable peasants".